Music as a Profession: The 5 Stages of Music Production

Who wouldn’t want to be a rock star? Ah, but becoming a professional musician isn’t as easy as it looks! Nevertheless, with a plan, perseverance, and some hard work you can do it! Remember though, even after you complete all five stages of music production, you’ll need to sell your music.

Being an unsigned artist, you’ll need attention-grabbing promotional material to bring in both fans and record label reps. There are numerous promo companies to choose from too. As a struggling musician, you should consider the successful industry leaders in music promotion from AMW Group for help in launching you on the way to rock stardom.

1. Arranging

This concerns which instruments are played in each part of a song and just how the parts are arranged in the overall timeline of a song. A finished song needs to have more than a good chorus and verses. There has to be some sort of build.

For example, a song’s first verse only has led vocals and acoustic guitar, the second verse adds drums and bass, and then the first chorus adds harmony vocals and synthesizer. Even subtler instrument additions can create more interest. At this point, one also decides how many sections to include in the finished track. Instruments should come in and out and the song should move.

2. Tracking

The goal of tracking is to capture the desired performance of a song. Before it’s recorded, a song is just a group of musical thoughts. It’s communicable played live, but it’s not tangible until recorded. Here is where the various instruments used to perform the song are recorded.

This is done one track at a time (unless making a live album). When an artist records a new track, he or she can hear the other tracks that have been recorded too.

This specific process is known as multi-track recording. There are different editing options for correcting errors, but even in 2019, there’s a limit to what one can do to fix a problem and still have it come out sounding natural.

3. Editing

Digital editing makes it easier than ever to capture the best performance. Still, editing tools are to be used sparingly. Like other stages, this process must be done separately so as not to interfere with the flow of any other process. The editing should be left for later. Editing should not be overdone or the finished product could sound unnatural emotionless and even choppy.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If it sounds good it does not require editing. Editing should focus on moving sections that are not quite in time, to adjust pitch or fading the end or the beginning of parts to give things more polish.

4. Mixing

Here all the previously recorded vocal and instrumental tracks must be mixed together so that the listener will be able to hear all the instruments and vocals clearly. (Some professionals do nothing but mixing.) Here is where the mixer makes sure the song sounds exactly the way it’s supposed to sound.

This is the process where the tracks are mixed so that the audience can grasp the true intention of the song. The mixer determines which instruments will be louder than the rest. This mixer puts certain sounds in the front, certain sounds in the back, where they fall in the stereo spectrum, and makes certain the lead vocals are not buried. Indeed, the final mix is reported to have a significant impact on just how a song is interpreted.

5. Mastering

When professional musicians record an album they frequently utilize more than one studio, engineer and producer. Because of this, each song has its own sonic sound. Mastering is the actual process of making all the individual songs sound both coherent and a part of one album.

This is when any minor deficiencies in the mix are corrected. This is also the time when the level of the separate tracks will be raised to be sure they are “hot” (meaning loud) as well as even in volume. This is accomplished by putting each song through mastering gear and adjusting them to the same level. When done properly, this makes all the individual numbers sound like they are coming from the same CD.

These are the five stages of music production. But be aware that while computers and software may make it easy to do, you’ll need professional help to do it right. So do your homework before you make your musical dream a reality.

Author: Stan Roach

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